SAVANNAH, GA - Jaron Long pitched 62/3 shutout innings for the Charleston RiverDogs on Tuesday night, but the Savannah Sand Gnats rallied in the eighth to claim a 2-1 comeback win at Grayson Stadium in a South Atlantic League game. Long has pitched 172/3 scoreless innings over three starts but has no wins in those appearances.
Charleston split the four-game series against first-place Savannah despite winning the first two games. The RiverDogs dropped to 23-21 with the Sand Gnats bouncing up to 30-14.
The evening began with a leadoff single by Tyler Wade, who later advanced to second base on a one-out single from Aaron Judge. With two outs, Miguel Andujar singled to score Wade for a 1-0 Charleston lead. On the play, Andujar tried to stretch his hit to a double and was put out at second base.
Both starting pitchers escaped bases-loaded jams as the game continued. Charleston's Jaron Long had the bases full after a two-out walk before he induced an inning-ending force out that kept the RiverDogs in front. In the top of the third, Savannah's Ricky Knapp allowed the first three hitters to reach, but he struck out the next three batters to keep the Sand Gnats within a run.
Long and Knapp each recorded quality starts on Tuesday. Long struck out seven in 62/3 scoreless innings, working hard through a 98-pitch performance. Knapp had five strikeouts for the Sand Gnats and even retired nine consecutive RiverDogs during his six frames.
Rony Bautista inherited the potential tying run at first base when he relieved Long in the seventh. Dominic Smith moved into scoring position when Champ Stuart's full-count single sent Smith to second base. Bautista responded with a strikeout against Colton Plaia to end the scoring threat.
Savannah broke through in the eighth inning to take a 2-1 lead. Bautista drew a pair of groundouts before Jeff McNeil reached on a single. Cesar Vargas relieved Bautista and put two early strikes on L.J. Mazzilli. After fouling away three straight pitches, Mazzilli doubled to score McNeil and made it to third base on an error. Smith's go-ahead single plated Mazzilli as Savannah came back to snatch a victory over Charleston.
Dario Alvarez pitched two scoreless innings and improved to 3-0 with credit for the victory. Vargas fell to 0-2 with the loss. Robert Coles pitched a perfect final frame and earned his ninth save in as many attempts for the Sand Gnats.
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